A few events in the last few weeks should have convinced even the most extreme skeptics that the Hubble Space Telescope and the amazing images it has produced have become permanent icons within human culture.
First, National Geographic magazine published a special issue, entitled: “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World.” Among those world-changing discoveries, at #78, you can find the Hubble Space Telescope!
The telescope is even mentioned in relation to two other earth-shaking topics: the inflationary universe, and extrasolar planets.
OK, you may think, clearly the telescope represents an impressive scientific achievement, but what about other arenas of “human culture”?
Well, Artforum is one of the leading international magazines on art. In its February 2012 issue, it features an article entitled “Top Ten” by sculptor and artist Maya Lin. Lin is perhaps best-known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In 1994, she was also the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision.”
In her article, Lin lists the Top Ten subjects that she finds inspiring. Believe it or not, at #7, is “Images from the Hubble Space Telescope!”
Lin writes: “When I first saw NASA’s renderings of distant nebulae, I realized that these weren’t just reference photographs but, rather, works of art—and undoubtedly among the most powerful that our generation has produced.”
Finally, there is the realm of popular culture. There, HST was recently featured on a carnival float in Sao Paulo, Brazil!
I rest my case.